Blackfin tuna can be one of the most fun fish to catch because of the fight they put on. These pelagic fish are not super hard to catch if you have the right baits and are going during the right season. The best way to put it is: When you can catch mahi, you can catch blackfin.
The simplest way to troll for tuna is by throwing a pre-rigged naked lure in your spread. The perfect lure for this would be our 6.5” Splash Master trolling lure. What this will do is cause a splashing commotion at the surface of the water that any tuna nearby can’t resist. The ideal trolling speed is 5-7 knots when you are using this method. This is by far the easiest method for blackfin tuna fishing and one of the best. However, there are also a couple of other methods that tend to work a little better, such as a cedar plug and ballyhoo.
The 4-6 inch wooden plug, or “cedar plug,” is the oldest trick in the book yet still the most common to catch tuna on. Tuna’s mouths are not very big so you can't use big bait to catch them. That is why the cedar plug is one of the best options to use. It skips across the top of the water causing a commotion like a baitfish would. While trolling with a cedar plug, around 7 knots is the ideal speed to use. This is also the line you want farthest back in your spread, such as the “shotgun” line. The cedar plug is also best for the morning and evening time. After the sun rises and gets hot, it is best to switch it up and use the ballyhoo method.
Trolling ballyhoo is one of the most used trolling tactics when it comes to any pelagic fish such as the blackfin tuna. Ballyhoo is most commonly used behind a lure such as our 6.5” Splash Master trolling lure. When strictly targeting tuna, use a small or medium-sized ballyhoo instead of a large one to get the best results. You will catch tuna when you are targeting mahi. For rigging, here at Reel Em Up Lures we handmake pre-rigged trolling lures that will work perfectly for catching tuna. However if you decide to rig your own lure, we recommend using a size 7/0 hook with 7 feet of 150 lb. leader. This is the perfect size because if you use a hook that’s too big or too small, a lot of fish will be able to get away. However, first you need to be in the right location.
When it comes to the Atlantic Ocean, the edge of the gulf stream is the most ideal spot for blackfin tuna. A rip or weedline will form where the ocean meets the gulf stream. This is where you want to present your baits. If you are close to the ledge and see birds diving onto bait, the tuna will definitely be there. Tuna are typically around mahi mahi, so if you are catching mahi or know where they are, then that is a good starting point to blackfin tuna fishing.
Blackfin tuna are known for swimming the gulf stream during the spring and into early summer. These two seasons are the perfect time to target these strong-fighting fish. Once it gets into summertime and the water heats up, they move north and the bite will slow down. Blackfin tuna season is almost the exact same time as mahi. Like mentioned earlier, if you can catch mahi then there are blackfin around!
There are different times, locations, and methods to catch blackfin tuna, you just have to figure out what you prefer best. Use the advice we have listed above and pick up a 6.5” Splash Master lure to get the job done. Good luck and Reel Em Up!